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Electrotechnology

Overview

This page provides high level information and data on the Electrotechnology industry which comprises six main industry sectors:

  • Electrical Services (Electricians)
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Industrial Control
  • Electronics and Computers
  • Refrigeration and Air-conditioning
  • Renewable and Sustainable Energy.

The Electrotechnology industry includes the design, maintenance, installation and repair of all electrical and electronic equipment. The Electrotechnology industry workforce stretches across a wide range of other industries including Mining, Manufacturing, Communications, Construction, Renewables, and Domestic and Commercial Refrigeration and Air Conditioning.

Nationally recognised training for the Electrotechnology industry is delivered under the UEE – Electrotechnology Training Package.

For more information and data specific to Electrical Engineering, Electrical Services, Electronics and Computers, Industrial Control, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning, Renewable and Sustainable Energy, ESI Generation, and ESI Transmission Distribution and Rail please visit the respective pages.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

For the occupation of Electrician, and although there have been some fluctuations in between, employment levels have doubled overall from around 83,500 in 2001 to 169,300 in 2021. These figures are expected to decline over the next four years. Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics have also experienced overall growth in the same period, but those increases are expected to continue to 2025.

The occupation of Electrical Engineering Draftspersons and Technicians has fluctuated over the years, more than doubling from 2001 to a peak of 14,200 in 2009. Employment levels have declined since then to 8,200 in 2021, however those figures are projected to remain stable in the next four years.

The occupations of Telecommunications Trades Worker and Electronic Engineering Draftspersons and Technicians have experienced some variation in employment levels between 2001 and 2021, but overall the figures have both declined by approximately half (by 48% and 53% respectively). A small increase in employment levels to 7,500 is predicted by 2025 for Electronic Engineering Draftspersons and Technicians, while employment levels for Telecommunications Trades Workers are expected to almost double to 29,400 by 2025.

The employment levels for Electronics Trades Workers has decreased by just over 20% since 2001, with a continued decrease in employment levels predicted by 2025.

Program enrolments in the Electrotechnology Training Package declined to roughly 60,300 in 2018 but have since increased each year to peak in 2020 at approximately 64,150, up from the previous high of 63,160 in 2017. Program completions have declined to 15,820 in 2020, but levels are still above the low point of 14,890 in 2017.

Over the past five years, around 90% of subjects were delivered as part of a nationally recognised program.

Industry insights on skills needs

According to the Electrotechnology IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, the top priority skills required for the Electrotechnology industry are health and safety, maintenance and servicing, electrical, testing and diagnostics, and security. In addition, the top priority generic skills for the Electrotechnology industry include:

  • Technology
  • Science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM)
  • Design mindset / thinking critically / system thinking / solving problems
  • Learning agility / information literacy / intellectual autonomy and self-management
  • Language, literacy and numeracy (LLN).

According to the job vacancy data, the most advertised Electrotechnology occupations were Electricians, followed by Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics and Electronics Trades Workers. Communication skills, troubleshooting and problem solving were identified as the top generic skills in demand, while Westrac, Government of Queensland and Downer EDI were the top employers.

Further, the Electrotechnology IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast lists the following skills and labour shortages, as identified from an online survey of industry stakeholders:

  • Educators, trainers and assessors
  • Electricians
  • Refrigeration / air conditioning technicians
  • Engineers (various)
  • Appliance repair.

Reasons given by employers for the shortages in the job roles listed above, in order of frequency were:

  • Ageing workforce / current staff retiring
  • Cost / time to achieve the required qualification
  • Competition from other organisations
  • Wages / salaries considered too low
  • Geographic location of the vacancy.

The Electrotechnology IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast highlights a range of challenges and opportunities which will impact future skilling requirements of the Electrotechnology workforce, including:

  • Growth of the Internet of Things (IoT): The number of IoT connected devices is predicted to grow from the current 25 billion to 75 billion in 2025.
  • Electric vehicle technology and charging stations: One barrier to the fast adoption of EV (Electric Vehicle) technology is the lack of charging stations. In order to provide additional fast charging stations as identified in the Australian Infrastructure Plan as a ‘High Priority Initiative’, skill development will be required for Electrotechnology workers.
  • Digital competence: The Electrotechnology workforce requires a certain level of digital skill development in order to capitalise on the opportunities provided by the large volume of data and information generated through technological advancements occurring across AI, computer technology, automation, IoT, cloud computing, big data, customer service platforms and social media.
  • Fifth generation standard (5G) and wireless technologies: The progression of 5G technology and the associated faster internet speeds, better reliability, improved capacity, and reduced latency, will also impact on the skills needs of the Electrotechnology workforce.
  • Industry specific cyber security skills: The development of these new and advancing technologies is also accompanied by new security risks. As such, the Electrotechnology workforces needs to appropriately skilled with the capability to identify, manage and reduce the risk of cyber-attacks.
  • Renewable technologies and natural refrigerants: Skills in the installation and maintenance of solar systems are anticipated be in high demand as the uptake of solar continues to grow, with a doubling of installations predicted by the mid-2020s. Further, a move towards more ecofriendly refrigerants has prompted the need for new skills as these alternatives are more flammable, toxic, and operate at extremely high pressures. According to Energy Skills Queensland’s Interim research report, the growing Hydrogen industry will require a mix of new roles necessitated by the introduction of new technologies, and traditional roles that have been a part of the LNG/CSG industries.
  • WHS and silicosis developments: There has been increasing recognition and concern over Workplace Health and Safety and silicosis. Silica is an airborne dust that can occur when riveting and drilling into materials such as concrete, and once inhaled can cause lung cancer or the lung disease silicosis. In response to these concerns, a task force has been established by the Federal Government, Safe Work Australia is evaluating the applicable standards, and industry has been raising awareness through training workshops.

Covid-19 impact

The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impact on the labour market and there is now more competition for jobs within the Electrotechnology field. According to the National Skills Commission’s Australian Jobs 2020 report, it is more important than ever to understand what employers are looking for and to understand the labour market.

As a result of the pandemic, the electrotechnology industry has experienced job losses, supply chain shortages, increased contractual and legal risks, industrial risks, reduced productivity and a heightened level of uncertainty and increased cautiousness amongst consumers in relation to engaging contractors for electrical work/projects. The Electrotechnology IRC’s 2021 Industry Outlook reports a significant number of apprenticeships were unfortunately suspended or terminated due to COVID-19, and skilled migration has been extensively disrupted, which will result in a shortage of qualified electrotechnology tradespeople in the near future.

80% of all electrical and communications industry businesses participating in the NECA COVID-19 Industry Impact Survey stated they had seen a negative financial impact as a result of the pandemic with one in five experiencing a reduction in revenue of more than 50%. Additionally, 70% of respondents believed investment in infrastructure and construction is required in order to stimulate the economy.

Renewable energy will be a major source of jobs in the next few years; but there are very different trajectories depending on government COVID-19 stimulus measures and wider energy policy. According to a recent report from the Institute for Sustainable Futures, depending on policy decisions taken now the renewable energy industry could create 20,000 new jobs in the next five years or lose 11,000 jobs by 2022.

The ACTU, with economist Dr Jim Stanford and the Centre for Future Work, have developed a National Economic Reconstruction Plan, with 5 concrete ideas to get started on Australia’s COVID-19 economic recovery. These ideas include a Sustainable Manufacturing Strategy and notes that accelerating the shift to low-cost and sustainable renewable energy sources has potential to reduce energy costs for Australian manufacturers by $1.6 billion per year.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant research, organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

IRC and skills forecasts

Electrotechnology IRC

 

Relevant research

 

2020-21 Australian Government Pre-Budget Submission - National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA)

Australian Infrastructure Plan – Infrastructure Australia

Australian Jobs 2020 – National Skills Commission

Australia's Economic Reconstruction After COVID-19: A National Jobs Plan and Five Ways to get Started - Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)

Interim Research Report: Hydrogen Industry - Job Roles, Skills, Qualifications and Experience – Energy Skills Queensland

Renewable Energy Jobs in Australia: Stage One - Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney

 

Industry associations and advisory bodies

 

Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors’ Association

ANZETA Electrotechnology Training Alliance

Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating

Australian Refrigeration Mechanics Association

Australian Rail Track Corporation

Clean Energy Council

Energy Skills Queensland

Future Energy Skills

Institute of Instrumentation Control and Automation

Lighting Council Australia

Master Electricians Australia

National Electrical and Communications Association

National Electrical Switchboard Manufacturers Association

NSW Utilities & Electrotechnology Industry Training Advisory Body

Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors’ Association Australia

Smart Energy Council

 

Regulatory bodies

Australian Refrigeration Council

Electrical Safety Office QLD

Energy Safe Victoria

NT WorkSafe

Safe Work Australia

SafeWork SA

SafeWork NSW

Worksafe Tasmania

 

Employee associations

Communications Electrical Plumbing Union

Electrical Trades Union

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment, 2021, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal:

  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2025
    • 3123 Electrical Engineering Draftspersons and Technicians
    • 3124 Electronic Engineering Draftspersons and Technicians
    • 3411 Electricians
    • 3421 Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics
    • 3423 Electronics Trades Workers
    • 3424 Telecommunications Trades Workers.

 

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021, 6291.0.55.001 - EQ08 - Employed persons by Occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards, viewed 1 August 2021, https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia-detailed/may-2021

  • Employed total by ANZSCO 4 digit occupation, 2001 to 2021, May Quarter
    • 3123 Electrical Engineering Draftspersons and Technicians
    • 3124 Electronic Engineering Draftspersons and Technicians
    • 3411 Electricians
    • 3421 Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics
    • 3423 Electronics Trades Workers
    • 3424 Telecommunications Trades Workers.

 

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the following training package:

  • UEE11/UEE – Electrotechnology Training Package.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2016 to 2020 program enrolments
  • 2016 to 2020 subject enrolments
  • 2016 to 2020 program completions.

 

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2021, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2021, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represents most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2018 and June 2021 filtered by the ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills/Occupations
    • 34 Electrotechnology and Telecommunications Trades Workers
    • 3123 Electrical Engineering Draftspersons and Technicians
    • 3124 Electronic Engineering Draftspersons and Technicians.
  • Employers
    • 3411 Electricians
    • 3423 Electronics Trades Workers
    • 3421 Airconditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics
    • 3123 Electrical Engineering Draftspersons and Technicians
    • 3424 Telecommunications Trades Workers.
Updated: 28 Oct 2021
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